"With an increasing population and expanding commerce, and presided over by a chief magistrate eager for the promotion of its best interests, the province day by day rose in importance and was fast realizing the expectations which its illustrious founder had conceived for it." --- JONES's History of Georgia.

HON. JAMES WRIGHT, the newly appointed lieutenant-governor, arrived in Georgia October 11, 1760. Two days later Governor Ellis sent his last message to the Assembly, and on the 2d of November he sailed for England amid the regrets of the people of the whole province.

Lieutenant-Governor Wright was an American by birth, although educated in England. He was born in Charleston, and had been attorney-general of the province of South Carolina for twenty-one years. He was the third and last governor of Georgia under the British crown.

He at once sent a message to the Assembly, calling attention to the necessity of completing the defences of the colony. Fort Loudon had just been captured, and the people of Georgia were in constant dread of an attack from the Cherokee Indians. Savannah was completely enclosed with palisades and forts, so as to afford an asylum to the planters living in the vicinity, and the other forts of the province were put in good condition.

Lieutenant-Governor Wright determined not to remove the capital from Savannah to Hardwicke. This decision was of great importance to Savannah and to the whole province. The people, feeling sure that Savannah would be the permanent seat of government, invested capital in business there, and substantial brick buildings began to take the place of the temporary wooden structures that composed the town.

February, 1761, was a memorable month in Georgia. A ship arrived bringing news of the death, in October, 1760, of the old king, George II, for whom the province was named, and of the crowning of his successor, George III. The Assembly was dissolved, and funeral services held in memory of the old king. The following day George III was proclaimed king.

Meanwhile, Governor Ellis had reached England, and had induced the king to relieve him from serving any longer as governor of Georgia. On the 20th of March, 1761, Lieutenant-Governor James Wright was appointed "Captain-General, Governor, and Commander-in-Chief of the Province of Georgia," although his commission did not reach him until the 28th of January of the next year, nearly ten months after his appointment. This news was received with great rejoicing by the people.

Early in 1761, Lieutenant-Colonel James Grant reached Charleston with a force of Highlanders to cooperate with the South Carolina militia in conquering the Cherokees. With about two thousand six hundred men he marched to Fort Prince George in May, where he was met by Attakullakulla, who begged him to advance no farther. The old chief believed that he could persuade the Cherokees to sue for peace; but Colonel Grant declined to wait, and moved at once into the Cherokee country. A bloody fight occurred four days later on the spot where Colonel Montgomery had been drawn into an ambuscade the year before. The Cherokees fought bravely for three hours, but were finally compelled to retreat. Colonel Grant pressed on to the Indian town of Etchoe, which he burned. Advancing into the heart of the Cherokee country, he burned fourteen other towns and left the entire region desolate. He then returned to Fort Prince George. The power of the Cherokees was thoroughly crushed, and peace was soon made. During the two years in which they had been at war with Virginia and the Carolinas, the Cherokees had not attacked any settler in the province of Georgia.

In Europe events were taking place, which deeply affected the future of Georgia. France, Austria, and Russia were engaged in a war with Prussia and England, but had gained no advantage on the continent of Europe. But England had conquered Canada, had made large gains in India and Africa, and had seriously crippled the French navy, so that in 1761 the resources of France were exhausted.

Now it happened that France, Spain, Sicily, and Parma were governed by princes of the house of Bourbon, and the king of France persuaded his kinsmen to form an alliance, known in history as the "Family Compact." Spain, then a great naval power, secretly agreed to aid France in the war against England. In 1762 England learned of this secret compact, and promptly declared war against Spain. The contest was short. Within a few months England had almost destroyed the Spanish navy and captured Havana. Spain's commerce and her rich colonial possessions were at the mercy of England, and a treaty was agreed upon.

This treaty, known in history as the Peace of Paris, was proclaimed February 10, 1763. Its provisions affecting Georgia were that England gained Florida, which was ceded by Spain, and the valley of the Mississippi east of the river, which was ceded by France.

It will be remembered that up to this time the northern boundary line of Florida had never been settled. Now that all the land had come into possession of England, King George III, by royal proclamation, on the 10th of October, 1763, fixed this boundary line at the St. Mary's River and a straight line to be run from the head waters of that river to the beginning of the Appalachicola River. The territory south of this line and east of the Appalachicola River became the province of East Florida. The territory between the Appalachicola River and the Mississippi was organized into a new province, called West Florida, with its northern boundary line on the thirty-first parallel of latitude. By the same proclamation the king added to the province of Georgia all the lands lying between the Altamaha River and the northern line of Florida. Thus it happened that Georgia profited by the Treaty of Paris. The addition to her territory made her one of the largest provinces in America, and the organization of Florida as an English province removed the Spaniards, who had always been troublesome and dangerous neighbors. A new commission was issued to Governor Wright early the next year, giving the exact boundaries of the province he was to govern. This commission, years afterward, was an important document in settling the boundaries of the United States.

In the same proclamation the king had set aside, for the use of the Indian tribes, the lands between the Mississippi River and the head waters of the streams flowing into the Atlantic, and had forbidden whites, "for the present," to settle on these lands. In order to establish friendly relations between the whites and the Indians, the king ordered the governors of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, within whose boundaries the Indian lands lay, to hold a joint conference with the chiefs of the tribes. Augusta was selected as the most convenient and suitable location, and the congress was opened at the King's Fort in that town on the 5th of November, 1763. Seven hundred Indians were in attendance; among them were the leading chiefs of each tribe. As the conference was held in Georgia, Governor Wright was made president, and after five days of negotiation, a solemn treaty of perpetual peace and friendship was agreed upon and signed by all the parties.

[Although England had granted to the colonies along the Atlantic coast charters, which extended their boundaries "westward to the South Sea" or "from sea to sea," as a matter of fact, these colonies had never extended west of the Alleghany Mountains. According to the law of nations, France had a clear title to this territory, which she now ceded to England.]

[The fighting, which really began in 1754 on the western borders of Virginia, had not caused a declaration of war between France and England, although both countries had been irritated about it. Two years later France formed an alliance with the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria and the Empress Elizabeth of Russia against Frederick the Great of Prussia. England, through her interest in Hanover, came to the assistance of Frederick, who had not then won his title "the Great," and declared war on France in 1756. This war is known in history as "the Seven Years' War," and was fought in Europe, in India, in America and on the ocean. The fighting done in America is called in American history "the French and Indian War," though it was really a part of the great "Seven Years' War," and is so called by European historians. Spain did not take part in the war until 1761. The results of this war were most disastrous for France. Prussia became one of the great powers of Europe; France lost the better part of her colonial possessions, and England from this time was mistress of the seas.]

History of Georgia

Main page

You are visitor since Dec 2014 -- thanks for stopping by!

There were 1004 visitors, at our previous host from 23 Jun 2004 to 9 Aug 2011.

Last updated: 19 Jan 2015

© Copyright 2003 - 2014 - Tim Stowell